May 13, 2023

IRELAND: Permanent Ban On Private Vehicles In Dublin’s College Green By End Of Month To Become A 24/7 Bus Corridor. More Than 830,000 Patients On Hospital Waiting Lists Last Month.

I added the map above to this news.

The Portugal News
written by PA/TPN, in Ireland
Saturday May 13, 2023

Dublin City Council will implement traffic management measures and on-street enhancements from Monday, 29th May.

The corridor currently operates from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday. The new bus corridor will prohibit private vehicles 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Each week over half a million pedestrians and 2 million passengers on public transport go through the College Green bus gate. This compares with just 27,000 private vehicles.

However, this small number of private vehicles causes significant delays to public transport journey times in the area, particularly in the evenings and at weekends when there are no restrictions, the Council said.

These new traffic management measures will reallocate the road space exclusively to sustainable modes of transport, which account for 97% of current journeys through College Green.

Taxis spaces will be reduced in Foster Place and increased instead at the main College Green taxi rank,

The Council said there will also be increased interim footpath space (or buildouts) on Dame Street at Foster Place. The median opposite Church Lane will be increased, removing the right turn from Church Lane to College Green. This median area will also be provided with interim public seating and planters.

Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy said the new measures will create a more relaxing and inviting environment to enjoy the city centre.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said the measures marked “the first steps in delivering a long-awaited and innovative reimagining of the city core. This is the way all of the best cities in the world are moving – making more space for people, for active travel and for public transport and relieving our city centres of choking traffic.”

The Irish Times
written by Sarah Burns
Saturday May 13, 2023

There were more than 830,000 patients waiting to be seen at an outpatient clinic or waiting for hospital treatment last month, according to the latest figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

This included 84,797 patients waiting for an appointment date for inpatient treatment and 596,265 patients waiting to be seen at an outpatient clinic.

The Department of Health said the figures showed that 492,639 people on the active waiting lists (inpatient/day case, GI scopes and outpatients) were waiting longer than the Slรกintecare maximum wait times.

The 2017 Slรกintecare report recommended maximum wait times of no more than 12 weeks for an inpatient/day case procedure or GI scope, and 10 weeks for a new outpatient appointment.

“Additions to waiting lists in the year to date have been higher than projected,” a statement from the department said.

“The Health Service Executive attributes this trend to a number of drivers, including post-pandemic pent-up demand, and highlight it is also the case internationally eg, the NHS in Britain is seeing higher additions compared to previous years.”

The department added there were 3.4 million outpatient and 1.7 million in-patient/day case attendances over the last 12 months.

“In addition to this planned care, our hospital system also treated 1.6 million patients during this same period in emergency care, which represents a 10 per cent increase on 2019 pre-pandemic levels and reflects the ongoing pressure on hospitals from flu surges and increased emergency department attendances,” it said.

“Such pressures have had the expected knock-on impact on scheduled care in many of our hospitals in the first months of this year, which has resulted in some waiting lists temporarily increasing.

“However, there are many examples of individual hospitals delivering significant improvements in waiting times despite such challenges.”

Prof Robert Landers, president of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, said there was an opportunity to make “significant improvements” to the State’s hospital capacity challenges over the next two years.

Prof Landers said to do this, the Government “must commit the necessary capital spend in the budget in October to deliver the additional expedited bed capacity announced by the Minister for Health”.

“The State’s forecasted surplus should and must be used for the betterment of patient care – across the totality of the health service, from hospitals to stepdown and homecare services,” he said.

“Only when capacity is increased and additional consultants are appointed will we see treatment volumes in public hospitals match demand and effectively reduce current unmanageable waiting lists on a sustainable basis.

“Consultants believe at least 700 extra hospital beds need to be delivered and opened every year for the next seven years, whilst appointing around an additional 300 permanent consultants on an annual basis, in order to keep patients off trolleys and bring down waiting lists for hospital treatment.”

written by Jenni Reid
Wednesday May 10, 2023

Ireland is considering funneling some of the bumper tax income it’s receiving from the many multinationals based in the country into a new sovereign wealth fund.

The move would be an effort to shore up public finances into the future — when annual income may be less reliable than it is now.

A paper to be submitted to the Irish Parliament on Wednesday by Finance Minister Michael McGrath looks at the benefits of setting up a new “longer-term public savings vehicle to which windfall receipts could be channelled.”

Previous reports have suggested the new fund would be used to continue to pay down debt as well as on pensions and heath care spending.

Ireland’s corporate tax receipts have rocketed over the last decade and have hit record highs since the pandemic, rising 30% year-on-year in 2021 and up another 48% in 2022 to a record 22.6 billion euros ($24.8 billion).

That has come from tech giants including Alphabet, Meta, Intel, LinkedIn and Amazon, along with firms like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

Multinational-dominated sectors now account for more than half of GDP and around a quarter of tax revenue in the country of just over 5 million people, with many firms attracted by its low 12.5% corporate tax rate.

Ireland’s government surplus was 8 billion euros last year despite its spending on energy support packages and other measures, 1.6% of GDP — one of few EU countries to record a surplus.

The government expects this to swell further in the coming years, with the surplus totaling 65 billion euros over four years and potentially hitting 6.3% of gross national income — GDP plus all net receipts — by 2026.

Ireland has also been chipping away at its debt-to-GDP ratio over the last decade since it hit a record high in the wake of 2008, which saw a crash from its Celtic Tiger years into a severe recession and crises in employment, property and banking.

Unemployment is today at a record low. But continued challenges surround upgrading the country’s infrastructure and a chronic housing shortage.

McGrath also highlights “substantial fiscal risks in the medium-term” around caring for Ireland’s ageing population. People born in Ireland from 2020 onward have among the highest life expectancies in the EU, and the Department of Finance estimates age-related spending will increase by 7-8 billion euros between 2020 and 2030.

In 2021, Ireland agreed to an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) plan for a global rate of 15% tax — a move set to be phased in from 2024, but that has been flagged as potentially jeopardizing Ireland’s attractiveness to big firms, particularly as many attempt to rein in spending in the wake of recent interest rate rises.

Ricardo Amaro, senior economist in the euro zone team at Oxford Economics, noted that the government’s forecast of a fiscal surplus of over 6% of national income by 2026 was “highly conditional on the assumption of no major shock to corporation tax receipts.”

“The problem is that a large share of these revenues are very unpredictable in nature, and highly concentrated in a handful of multinational companies,” he told CNBC.

A sovereign wealth fund that aims to keep these revenues aside for longer-term investments instead of day-to-day spending could therefore be a “useful tool” — but he said that given there are existing similar funds in Ireland, details will be key.

“The risk is that the contributions to the pot become too dependent on politicians’ discretion, and ultimately turn out to be too small relative to the size of the windfall corporation tax receipts,” Amaro said.

“In that sense, it is likely that the already existing expenditure rule which limits annual spending increases to 5% remains the primary tool in Ireland’s fiscal framework.”

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